Belfast Telegraph

Funding boost for old school building

by Natalie Gorman

Five years of hard work by a local community development agency have paid off, as the last parcel of funding needed to transform the derelict former school building on Templemore Avenue was announced.

Last Thursday, March 24, the Department for Social Development apportioned just over £2million of its funds to the East Belfast Community Development Agency (EBCDA) so it can begin work on the new shared network centre — to be the base for a wide variety of community organisations in the area.

EBCDA director Michael Briggs told the Community Telegraph: “This is fantastic news, it has taken five years’ work to get to this stage and I’m extremely proud of my team, and must thank all the different organisations and people who have supported this from the very start.

“This project is going to change the way the community and voluntary sector in east Belfast work together and will lift the Templemore Avenue area as well as the historic building — that holds so many memories for people living in the area.

“The work should start at the end of this summer and we expect it will take 12 months to complete the refurbishment.”

Former DSD minister Alex Attwood said: “I commend East Belfast Community Development Agency and the other partners involved in this project for their commitment and determination to see this project become a reality. The former Templemore Avenue School is a local landmark which must be preserved. My vision is that it can become a focal point and a valuable resource for people in both communities which border the school.

“I remain committed to the regeneration of east Belfast and in the current economic climate, funding to maximise the potential of this area is timely, important and a beacon of hope for the whole community.”

DUP MLA candidate Robin Newton said: “This former school building is now lying derelict and boarded up is creating a blight on the area.

“The plans by the East Belfast Community Development Association (EBCDA) are exciting and will, when completed, greatly enhance Templemore Avenue. The vision of EBCDA, in terms of their community and physical development strategy, is welcome. Even in these difficult economic days, they are managing to succeed.

“There is a lot going on in the east of the city, but more needs to be done. Tackling the levels of deprivation, education, health, housing and unemployment are issues that newly-elected politicians will need to get to grips with.”

Alliance councillor Maire Hendron said: “I have been campaigning on this issue for a long time and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in securing this funding. This is excellent news and will provide a great resource for people in the area.

“Once refurbished, I hope that this valuable resource will be used by both sides of the community and will help further achieve a shared future.”

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